Pictured here on the left Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander and Robbie Gibson, NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain – holding the award presented to them at the IMRF awards ceremony in London.

NSRI are delighted to announce our NSRI Plettenberg Bay, Station 14, station commander, Marc Rodgers, and NSRI Plettenberg Bay, Station 14, coxswain, Robbie Gibson, attending the IMRF (International Maritime Rescue Federation) awards in London were awarded second place, in the IMRF Innovation and Technology Awards announcements, for their purpose designed rescue stretcher.

Congratulations Marc and Robbie on your purpose designed rescue stretcher, designed for coastline rock and surf patient extrication, and recognised by IMRF in this prestigious awards ceremony.

Pictured here on the left Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander and Robbie Gibson, NSRI Plettenberg Bay coxswain – holding the award presented to them at the IMRF awards ceremony in London today.

Below is an extract from the motivation that was sent to the IMRF for their consideration:

Purpose designed rescue stretcher for rock and surf patient extrication:

The National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa’s Station 14, Plettenberg Bay, on the East Coast of the country, has a unique patient extrication problem on a rocky stretch of their shoreline where the bulk of their rescues take place.

Regularly hikers in the Robberg Nature reserve are injured on the hiking trail and need to be carried back to the parking area or extricated by sea. The latter is often the preferred method as large parts of the reserve include narrow foot paths which navigate steep rocky sections. 

Patient extrication by sea on a rocky stretch of coast that has substantial wave action is a specialist task that needs specialist training and equipment. The rescue vessels of choice in this area are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB’s) and jet skis. 

With this in mind the Plettenberg Bay volunteers have pioneered a new design of floating stretcher that could be used over rocks and through surf to extricate a patient who has been immobilised.

The stretcher that was designed in 2018 / 2019 and used operationally for the first time in April 2019 has a number of unique features that could be utilised by other rescue services around the world:

  1. It is a stable platform on which a casualty can be carried over rough terrain on narrow paths with ease.
  2. It will not capsize easily in surf.
  3. It carries a backboard with spider harness and head blocks that is easily removable.
  4. It is light weight and very strong so if damaged in operation it will not fail.
  5. It is a narrow design so that a patient can be carried on it on narrow footpaths.
  6. The shoulder strap design help the stretcher bearers take the weight of a patient.
  7. It has solid pontoon so that it can not be punctured and then fail.
  8. A rigid platform base that will allow CPR to be performed on it.
  9. A streamline platform to allow effective towing.
  10. A good towing eye and strap that can be quickly connected to a tow line while under stress in the surf.
  11. Suitable for use in swift water rescue.
  12. As comfortable as possible for the casualty while in the water with a hood that deflects surf.
  13. It should paddle like a SUP carrying two crew and be able to carry medical and rescue equipment in swift water and floods
  14. Have a storage compartment for medical equipment.
  15. The hull is of fibreglass with nylon skids protecting the underside when sliding over rocks.

To build such a craft designs from across the world were assessed and ideas from various designs were used as well as incorporating some completely new design concepts.

All of the above criteria was achieved and the final rescue platform came in at 20kg’s including a back board.